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Neuroimage. 2004 Aug;22(4):1636-45.

Sex-specific, postpuberty changes in mouse brain structures revealed by three-dimensional magnetic resonance microscopy.

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Department of Neurobiology and Center for Neural Basis of Cognition, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA.


Sexual dimorphism of brain structures has been reported in some species. We report that sex-dependent developmental structure changes exist in the C57Bl/6(J) mouse, a common model for the genetic analysis of brain function. High resolution, three-dimensional (3D) magnetic resonance microscopy (MRM) images were obtained in intact brains of male and female adult and peripubertal mice. The lateral and third ventricles, hippocampus, amygdala, striatum, and total brain were reconstructed in 3D. As observed in humans, there was overall cerebral growth from peripuberty to adulthood in both sexes. After correcting for the increased brain size, the hippocampus and amygdala were disproportionately larger in adult compared to peripubertal mice. Several sexual dimorphisms were also observed. The lateral ventricles were larger, while the amygdala (the left side in particular) was smaller in females compared to males. Lateral and third ventricles were reduced over time in males only, exhibiting a sex-specific developmental profile. The striatal size was uniform among the groups studied. The surface area of the segmented structures was assayed. Possible shape distortions were detected for the lateral ventricles, hippocampus, and overall brain structure based on a lack of covariance between the surface area and volumetric measurements. Although many sexually dimorphic changes are reported perinatally, our results suggest that there are additional sex-specific transformations that occur around puberty and persist in adulthood.

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